Written by Anthony Skeens, The Crescent City, California, Triplicate, February 18, 2011.
Kirk Stewart, the owner of a residence on French Hill Road, is still waiting on detailed analysis of hair samples he collected after a night three years ago when he thinks Bigfoot broke through a wire fence, plucked about seven of his peacocks and then made off with them.
The next morning, Stewart said he found a trampled fence and a piece of his peacock pen peeled off. He also noticed feathers on the ground and on a tree limb about 7 feet high.
“I was thinking it was a bear, up until I had seen how it opened the pen,” said Stewart.
As he assessed the damage, Stewart said he happened upon a clump of about 16 hairs attached to one of the barbs on his fence. They were about 7 inches long with a fine texture and a slight curl.
“The hairs are the smoking gun,” he said.
Stewart sent them to the North America Bigfoot Search. A preliminary analysis determined them to be from a primate, according to a book by the organization’s director.
A more detailed analysis is expected within six months, it said.
‘One of the hottest places’
NABS claims to use scientific methods to investigate possible incidents involving Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch, a purportedly ape-like creature whose existence is discounted by a majority of scientists.
NABS was created about six years ago by a group of private donors who wanted to find answers to their childhood curiosities about whether Bigfoot exists, said David Paulides, director of the organization based in Los Gatos, Calif.
It has collected dozens of hair samples from around the country to genetically analyze them. Along with Stewart’s samples, NABS has received hair samples from Hoopa, northern Humboldt County near Bluff Creek, and Oregon.
“(Del Norte) has to be one of the hottest places in the world” for Bigfoot reports, said Paulides in a telephone interview with The Triplicate.
He’s especially interested in Stewart’s property, where the resident said several other things have happened that seem Bigfoot-related.
“I’ve been at his property several times,” said Paulides. “ What’s going on there is very strange.”
In 2007, Stewart was throwing a birthday party for his son, when he heard a loud yell coming from near his melon patch.
When Stewart later went to the patch, he said he found a line of about 50 melons that had been pried open, he said.
There were circular holes in the melons with fingernail indentations, he said, adding there was also a big indentation in one of the large tires that housed the melons.
Perhaps Bigfoot used it as a resting place while gorging on melons, Stewart speculated.
“If I ever had him over for dinner, I’d cook peacocks and cut honeydew melons,” joked Stewart as he walked around his property recently.
“I believe it’s what they call a Bigfoot,” he said. “It’s not some long-haired hippie running around.”
Stewart said he has yet to sign a contract with NABS releasing his rights to the hair samples.
He said he makes his living farming his property. He also has a lawsuit pending against Del Norte County seeking the cash value of marijuana plants confiscated from his land even though he had a valid medical marijuana caregiver license.
The drug-related charges against Stewart were dismissed, but he’s currently on probation for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
‘In reality there’s thousands (of Bigfoots)’
Before it started collecting hair samples, NABS set out to gather anecdotal evidence from people who claimed to have encountered Bigfoot.
Through commonalities in the evidence gathered, Paulides said he was able to profile behavioral attributes of the creature.
“We named food sources,” said Paulides. “Bigfoot eats mushrooms. That’s a food source people didn’t really think about. Also, there’s a series of green shrubs and ferns and water plants.”
NABS has also hypothesized Bigfoot is not going to be far from water.
After gathering anecdotal information, NABS had a forensic artist draw sketches of Bigfoot that people who claimed to have seen it described.
The facial features of Bigfoot are more humanlike than previously suggested and its hair color runs the color spectrum similar to human hair, said Paulides.
“We flew right into the face of old-time researchers,” he said.
Paulides included anecdotal evidence and the forensic sketches in his book, “Tribal Bigfoot.”
Stewart was featured in the book, as were several other people from Del Norte and Humboldt counties.
While the book released in 2009 was being written, NABS was in the beginning stages of hair sample analysis.
A letter about a preliminary laboratory analysis of Stewart’s sample was published in the book.
The letter states that an expert examined the hair and found it to be from an animal of primate origin.
Since then, dozens more hair samples have been submitted for evaluation, and NABS hopes to have results soon, Paulides said.
The research has taken longer than expected due to the complexity of genetically tracing the hairs, Paulides said.
“That’s probably one of the reasons no one has tried to jump through the hurdles that we’re jumping through,” said Paulides. “It’s much more complicated than anyone thought.”
Paulides anticipates having the analysis completed within the next six months.
The work will be published in a report written by a group of scientists who will scrutinize the findings, Paulides said.
“I think if you have any scientific acumen to you and you’re an educated person then it’s hard to ignore science,” said Paulides. “In reality there’s thousands of (Bigfoots). They’re much more common than anyone realizes.”
“The forrest floor is so efficient at disposing of things,” said Paulides, adding that he’s spent thousands of hours in the woods, but has never seen a fully intact skeleton of a mountain lion.
“If we can prove theres a primate out there that’s bipedal and it has been ignored by science for eternity and we can now show it exists,” said Paulides, “I don’t care what kind of evolutionary belief system you have, I believe that will alter the course of science.”